2018 New Year's ResolutionsPublished on 2017-12-31
Reflecting back on 2017, I can’t help but feel that much of my engagement with the world outside of work this year was passive and shallow. I spent far too much time reading Twitter in a vain attempt to keep up with politics, and almost all of the long-form reading I’ve done was on Safari. Frantically reading tweets from journalists and refreshing the page every 5-10 minutes made me feel informed and connected in the moment, but that feeling would inevitably pass quickly after I switched to a different task, and aside from making a few political donations, the information I found on Twitter and nowhere else did not spur me into any active or productive undertaking. And though I do appreciate having a wealth of technical manuals and tutorials at my disposal, none of books I read with my Safari membership are intellectually challenging, at least not in the way a good novel or history can be.
So for this year, my resolutions are simple and all revolve around deeply engaging with a simple pursuit. This year, I resolve to:
1. Delete my Twitter account and not use social media as a daily routine
It’s been over a year since I deleted my FaceBook account and largely withdrew from LinkedIn, and I couldn’t be happier with how those sites’ absence from my life has improved my mood and work productivity. My Twitter usage seems to have grown to fill the void (helped in no small part by its realtime documenting of the insane pace of federal (US) politics), so it’s time to retreat from that platform, too. Reading Twitter in 2017 is simultaneously empowering (you get to know about Senate committee hearings in real time!) and anxiety-inducing (events like FCC meetings play out in real time, rather than being digested by journalists), but the anxiety I’m left with after catching up on tweets during my morning commute is too much.
This will reduce my social media presence to a Goodreads account and a LinkedIn profile that I check about once every six months, which should be more than enough.
2. Read more fiction and non-technical non-fiction
Over the past few months, I’ve been experimenting with reading fiction during my commute, and it leaves me more relaxed and prepared to face the day. Some of it has been escapist, some of it serious, but the end result is always preferable to what happens when I read Twitter or Hacker News instead. By deliberately reaching for long-form works when I would normally open Twitter, I hope to improve my mood when I get into work and exercise the intellectual muscles that have atrophied since I left grad school.
3. Regularly blog
Every year, I resolve to start a tech blog and write for it regularly, but I can never find the motivation to find topics for posts, much less write them. This year, I’m removing the requirement that all posts be “technical” and instead just urging myself to write something on my own terms at a regular interval. It can be technical, but it need not be. I contribute to a technical blog at work, and hopefully the extra writing should help improve the quality of my prose there, too.
4. Use the gym membership I signed up for in September
I signed up for a gym membership in September and haven’t been once! They have a lap pool and are a block away from my new office, so I don’t any excuses left. I’m not going to commit to a schedule in a resolution, but I’ll consider this resolution not met if I don’t go at least once a month.
5. Learn at least a little Spanish
As someone who grew up in Texas and has a graduate degree in French and intermediate competency in both Portuguese and Italian, it’s a bit embarrassing that I’ve never formally learned any Spanish. I’m not going to set a specific goal on this resolution; I just think I should put in some effort.
Hopefully putting 2018’s resolutions in writing will make them more likely to stick than their counterparts from recent years have. This year’s resolutions seem measured, attainable, and flexible enough to allow to change my method of achieving them if necessary.
Up first: deleting that Twitter account.